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Bruce House gets a massive makeover

Designer dream team donates services to AIDS hospice

Bruce House staffer Richard Naster admires one of the redesigned rooms. Credit: (Peter Knippel)

Bruce House is getting a much-needed makeover. But this is no ordinary project.

Late last fall, Martha Scott, head of development for the hospice for people with AIDS, came up with the idea of a designer showcase. She would enlist the help of six designers, one for each room. A designer dream team.

She first contacted Ernst Hupel, co-owner of H2 Interior Design. Hupel agreed immediately and gave Scott a list of designers to help.

“Every design firm I called said yes. I had to stop and see what rooms I had left, if any! I was so excited from the enthusiasm of these wonderful people,” Scott beams. The experience has been a thrill and a delight, she says.

The federal government kicked in $450,000, leaving another $100,000 for Bruce House to raise from the community.

Some of that money will be covered by the generous donations from the design team and their suppliers, says Scott, but the community can help by buying tickets to a showcase of the final result. Bruce House still needs to raise $30,000.

The tired home has been upgraded with an addition, giving space for an extended dining room with a mural on the ceiling, a bed capacity of seven – up from from the original five – and three wheelchair-accessible bathrooms – replacing the original single bathroom that you couldn’t get a wheelchair into.

“Everything is beautiful and functional,” says Scott. “The designers are all great. There is zero attitude and zero temperament. They have come together for this cause as a unified team and have complemented each other in doing so.”

Each designer was given a room that was drywalled and primed. They came to the challenge armed with a combined total of 98 suppliers who have donated time, money, labour and materials.

“I gave the design team our wish list and they added things to it. We even got a gas fireplace and new concrete counter tops. We rarely get anything new. We buy second-hand items when we need them and [staffer] Linda is always painting a room.”

Truly a Cinderella story for Bruce House residents. But Scott’s got one more wish coming to round out the dream redesign: a dream fundraiser to gather the outstanding $30,000.